6 must-have, underused email marketing automations

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6 must-have, underused email marketing automations

Automated email is one of the biggest — and underutilized — growth opportunities in marketing. Brands across all industries can benefit from strategic automation. Still, we keep seeing incredibly juicy, low-hanging fruit in the customer onboarding phase.

Our customer portfolio is strong in e-commerce, hospitality, and food and beverage, which are particularly well-suited industries for email automation.

This article outlines six email automations that should (but often don’t) result in significant incremental growth, including:

  • After purchase or after shipment
  • Welcome or create an account
  • birthday or anniversary
  • exit cart
  • Search abandonment
  • Reengagement / “We Miss You”

You will learn the potential business impact and benefits of each automation type. We’ll also delve into misconceptions that keep marketers from making them a reality — and technical options to make them possible.

Essential email automations in focus

1. Emails after purchase and shipment

A purchase on an e-commerce site is an opportunity to engage with that user about their new product. This could be shipment details/status, upsells, customer service information, or content related to the brand and community the customer just joined.

Especially for first-time buyers, this journey can give the user a good experience and lay a foundation for repeat purchases. The business impact of this automation is clear: increased revenue through customer LTV.

2. Welcome or account creation emails

Send Welcome Emails is an opportunity to set the tone with new subscribers. We love doing this for CPG brands.

Tailor the experience and communication to the channel and content that attracts new subscribers. Consider this series an opportunity to set the tone for the frequency and type of communication users should expect.

We have combined advertising-heavy messages with messages that build brand loyalty and brand equity. Both are content themes that you can test with your users. The business impact of this automation is more upper-funnel and nurturing focused. Affected metrics include:

  • time to buy.
  • purchase frequency.
  • brand affinity.

3. Birthday or Anniversary Emails

Collecting birthday dates upon signup opens up fun ways to show appreciation to your users. Birthday emails with little freebies, exclusive discounts or offers, and ideas for using a brand’s products to support a celebration are all effective ways for brands to connect with their users.

The same goes for celebrating anniversaries where users have joined brand communities. Using automations to improve personal connections may sound counterintuitive, but it’s a win for brands. Business benefits here are brand equity, brand awareness and additional direct response revenue.

Dig deeper: What is marketing automation and how can it help B2B marketers?

4. Cancel cart emails

This journey is an absolute must for ecommerce brands. When users get far enough in their web experience to add a product to their shopping cart, they probably just need a little nudge or reminder to complete their purchase.

Cancel cart emails are a huge sales driver. One of our most successful abandoned cart journeys is with an ecommerce client who started with one or two emails in a row. Many iterations and test tactics later, the difference is absurd: 88% increase in total conversions and 150% increase in average total sales compared to the base series of abandoned carts.

This is what an integrated abandoned cart series might look like:

This may seem like a lot of prep work, but with an effective approach, you’ll get a tremendous return on your effort.

5. Look for crashes

This is generally a step in the checkout process prior to cart abandonment. Suppose a user is browsing your website and is interested in a specific product or category of products, but the product has not yet made it into their shopping cart. In that case, it’s time to sell them that product and double down on the use cases and benefits of that product to get it across the finish line.

Although we don’t see the direct response rate of abandoned cart emails here, this step is definitely a source of increased revenue.

6. Reintegration / “We Miss You”

Use cases for this audience segment sometimes stem from philosophical differences. Many enterprise-level companies find it difficult to let go of uninterested subscribers, believing that the more people they engage, the more resonated they will be, regardless of engagement.

In the long run, without further nuance in engagement strategies, this is not generally the case. Additionally, continuing to treat these users as if they are fully engaged can negatively impact your sender’s reputation, unsubscribe rate, and overall engagement rate.

Instead, I recommend understanding the level of engagement of your overall audience (high, medium, and low). If someone falls into the low category, move them to a re-engagement workflow that broadcasts less frequently and has content tailored to win them back. The goal is to promote these users back into a high- or mid-level subscriber funnel.

When your leadership sets KPIs and goals based on new subscribers and total subscriber volume without regard to email best practices, hit back and make the case for turning disengaged users on their own path.

The metric to watch here is the conversion of low-engaged users into segments with medium or high engagement.

What enables marketers to leverage these automations?

I’m always surprised when the above series aren’t there, which happens too often. So what’s holding brands back? In short, data and technology capacities and the notion that the potential gain is not worth the effort.

One of the common denominators for brands not making good use of these automations is poor data configuration in their ESP (email service provider). Sometimes:

  • You have multiple fields that map to the same data type.
  • They don’t collect the right data at all.
  • Your data mapping is everywhere.

As a precursor to effective email automation, we have taken on numerous data hygiene projects. When brands cannot do this in-house, there are numerous partners who can help.

Another common scenario is the lack of integration between a brand’s website and ESP. This requires IT resources, but the ROI from simply setting up an abandoned cart streak will quickly prove positive.

Of the above automations, three require minimal API work. The all-important welcome series is easy to set up via the API. The birthday and re-engagement series can be run directly from your ESP with no API required other than firing new records from your website into the ESP.

Martech stack recommendations

All the possibilities described above depend on a good ESP. As much as I love Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Klaviyo is the option I would recommend if you have limited internal IT resources.

Aside from the great integration with Shopify, it offers many out-of-the-box options that marketers can easily enable and start testing. (However, if you have a lot of resources and data and don’t use Shopify, Salesforce and Emarsys are probably better suited due to the sheer range of functions.)


While the goal of each of these automations is fully developed sequences and corresponding growth, you will never get to step 10 unless you do step one. If that means taking a close look at your data hygiene and ensuring that the basic functions of your ESP work right from the start, then it’s time extremely well spent.

Balance these and automate an email or two in each of the six phases above, and your email game will be ahead of many big brands.

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of MarTech. Staff authors are listed Here.

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